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    15 Best & Important Character Traits for Kids That All Parents Must Instill

    By giving our children the right moral compass and accompanying character traits, we can set them up for a lifetime of success and happiness. You can transform the way a child interacts with the world by instilling kindness, confidence, courage, and other positive character traits for kids. 

    Through guided lessons, role-playing exercises, and storytelling, you can teach children the impact of the right traits in everyday life.

    What Are Character Traits?

    Girl sitting at desk smiling and waving at computer

    Prior to uncovering what traits are important to lifelong success, we should focus on what exactly we mean when we say traits. When we ask ourselves, “What are character traits?”, we need to focus on what they mean to children. Character traits for kids imply core values, personality aspects, and beliefs that children hold about themselves and the world.

    They can emerge organically, through experiences, or via sources, such as their parents or teachers. Both positive and negative character traits can emerge through either pathway, which is why it is vital to use the right strategy when teaching them. The value of empathy, responsibility, optimism, and work ethic should be taught in an engaging and uplifting way.

    Why Do Kids Need the Right Character Traits?

    Brother and sister playing on the sofa and laughing

    It is also helpful to know why kids need character traits in the first place. Not only do they empower children holistically, but they also help them deal with stressful situations. Positive character traits for kids provide a guiding light to analyze emotions and understand situations better.

    Your kids can nurture positive and useful character traits over time and understand the detrimental role of negative traits as well. They can work on strengthening areas, such as humility, independence, and curiosity, through different exercises and self-reflection. It ultimately brings out the inner potential each child holds, while giving them the tools they need to be productive human beings.

    The 15 Most Important Character Traits That Kids Need to Flourish

    Young boy and girl sitting in the woods on a nature walk

    Now that we’ve explored the role of character traits in the lives of kids, it is important to know which traits should be prioritized. While every positive character trait is good for children, it is good to emphasize a handful of them to build the foundation for a strong personality. 

    1. Honesty – a necessary character trait for building relationships

    Truthfulness is a vital character trait for kids as it helps ensure transparency within relationships. Your child will be more inclined to tell you the truth if they believe honesty to be a core virtue that everyone should uphold.

    How To Teach: You can focus on storytelling and role-playing exercises to teach honesty. By explaining the differences between white lies and malicious lies, you can strengthen their understanding of honesty.

    Character-Building Activities: One of the best character-building activities to teach honesty is through storytelling assessments. You can recite multiple types of stories where a character is deceitful and ask your kid whether they should be honest or not across different scenarios.  

    2. Self-Confidence – a tool for lifelong success

    Self-confidence is an essential tool that can help your children succeed at school and be more expressive with their thoughts and feelings. With a little self-confidence, your kids can actively participate in class, enjoy outdoor activities more freely, and be more self-assured during times of stress.

    How To Teach: You can teach self-confidence by focusing on skill development, such as through a hobby or a new experience. Overcoming challenges will allow them to emerge more confident in their own abilities.

    Character-Building Activities: You can enroll your children in drama, music, and art classes to make them bolder if they’re shy around new people or new experiences. You can also ask your kids to write a letter to themselves, mentioning all the things they’re proud of and the accomplishments that brought them joy.

    Related Reading: Interesting Debate Topics for Kids of All Ages
    Young boy taking notes and thinking

    3. Empathy – understanding other people’s emotions (H3)

    Empathy can help your kids understand what another person is feeling when they’re talking, and provide them the necessary information, comfort, and support they need. It can help kids adjust to social dynamics and become more aware of emotional development.

    How To Teach: A great way to teach empathy is through puppet-play. You can help your kids learn why empathy is important by seeing puppets interact, get hurt, apologize, and coexist with each other.   

    Character-Building Activities: By actively assessing the emotions of characters from a storybook or passage, your kids can develop empathy skills. You can also have them reflect on past misbehaviors and mention what approaches might have worked better to resolve conflict.   

    4. Courage – a strengthening tool to develop self-belief

    Courage can be a powerful tool to help kids become more aware of their own abilities. Your little ones can be braver in situations where they would normally shy away and take advantage of new experiences with ease.

    How To Teach: Courage can be taught through stories, role playing, and affirmations. You can teach your child to be more courageous through actively presenting new challenges and allowing kids to fail naturally.

    Character-Building Activities: Reading memoirs of courageous people, participating in sports, and writing down fears in a reflective way can help build courage.

    Parents helping daughter wear a helmet

    5. Creativity – a unique skill that can enable parallel thinking

    Creativity can be useful to kids as a means of self-expression and problem solving. It can help children develop an instinct for looking at challenges through new perspectives. As a character trait, it can help kids improve their communication and leadership skills over time.

    How To Teach: Creativity can be taught through the appreciation of arts, food, and music via new lenses. You can also encourage your children to use more colors when drawing, to help them expand their horizons.  

    Character-Building Activities: Painting, playing an instrument, and even innovating with Lego blocks can help your children build creativity skills at home.

    Woman teaching a young child how to play guitar

    6. Patience – a true virtue that all children need today

    Patience is key for long-term thinking and building a goal-oriented mindset. You can strengthen patience in kids to help them avoid being impulsive, disrespectful, and irritable. You can also teach character traits to show the importance of listening and waiting while focusing on tasks and objectives.

    How To Teach: Through delayed gratification, mindfulness, and teaching the value of waiting, you can help your child develop this character trait.   

    Character-Building Activities: Patience exercises, role playing, and practicing complex tasks can cultivate patience. Your children can participate in activities such as card stacking, meditation, gardening, and baking to get an intuitive sense of what rewards can be reaped through patience.

    Young girl meditating with with mother at home

    7. Compassion – giving value to all aspects of life

    Being compassionate can help kids live a well-adjusted and socially oriented life. Kids must understand how to interact with objects, pets, and humans, with compassion rather than jealousy or hatred. When compassion is fostered in children, they can even show forgiveness when someone has hurt and apologized to them.

    How To Teach: You can teach compassion through daily practice, affirmations, and by presenting them with new experiences. You can give them the right tools to be compassionate to people of different backgrounds and beliefs.    

    Character-Building Activities: New social experiences can help your kids develop compassion towards people. Exposure to pets and animals in zoos and farms can teach them this valuable character trait. Allowing them to take care of a gentle creature, such as a chick or a hamster, can also strengthen their responsibility skills.

    8. Curiosity – a sense of wonder and a desire to solve problems

    Curiosity can allow your children to explore the world with a new perspective. You can empower them to come up with new solutions to traditional problems, and let their minds be active throughout the day with new questions.

    How To Teach: Curiosity can be cultivated through the right learning programs, classes, and sessions that encourage kids to solve problems. You can also encourage your child to think laterally when reading about dinosaurs, plants, oceans, and more.     

    Character-Building Activities: Science experiments, construction toys, Lego blocks, art supplies, and instruments can help build curiosity as a core character trait. You can also actively widen their horizons by involving them in different activities that challenge different skills.  

    Related Reading: How to Nurture Multiple Intelligence in Children for Lifelong Growth

    9. Respect – being sensitive and appreciative of those around them

    The concept of respect, that is, self-respect as well as respect for others, must be explained to children. Help them get a sense of why respect is important and why it is good to treat others how you’d like to be treated.

    How To Teach: You can focus on the role of respect and how it is earned and appreciated over time. You can role play, read stories, and encourage active interactions with elder influences in your child’s life.      

    Character-Building Activities: Through puppet play, storybooks, and sharing of toys, you can build respect as a character trait in your children. You can also socialize your child with older kids and help them understand the role of respect through active play.

    10. Discipline – having a long-term, fulfilling work ethic

    By reframing discipline to be focused on work ethic and perseverance, you can encourage your children to develop the right mindset early on. Help them reap the benefits of disciplined work by setting objectives such as cleaning their room, helping out with chores, finishing their homework on time, etc.

    How To Teach: A great way to instill discipline in your children is to set daily habits. Having a routine that is flexible yet work-oriented will help kids pick up on what it means to be more disciplined.

    Character-Building Activities: Puzzles, worksheets, and brain games will help your kids become goal oriented, patient, and focused. These can help build discipline and work ethic at a young age, allowing them to succeed in any class at school.

    Related Reading: Practical Positive Punishment Examples + How to Discipline Students in an Uplifting Way
    Two kids painting easter eggs

    11. Optimism – being aware of negative circumstances and persevering through positivity

    Having a sense of optimism and positivity can help your kids live a fulfilling life beyond school and work. They can enjoy the present moment fully while being attentive in class and finishing their homework. They can also be less susceptible to tantrums and anger if they have optimism as a core character trait.

    How To Teach: Encouraging kids to be more optimistic when they want to give up is a great way to teach the value of the trait. You can further emphasize that it is fine to fail and good to experience failure in order to learn lessons from it.

    Character-Building Activities: Affirmations, daily compliments, positive stories, and physical activities can help develop a sense of optimism. You can also have your kids rewrite fearful scenarios through positive and open-minded language.   

    12. Integrity – knowing the importance of giving your word

    Teaching the value of integrity is crucial for early development, especially if your child doesn’t instinctively know what honesty, work ethic, and promises mean. Teaching integrity as a valuable character trait for kids can help them hold themselves accountable for promises, tasks, and goals.

    How To Teach: With integrity being one of the most important positive character traits for kids, you should focus on small activities that kids can promise and fulfill. These can include finishing a worksheet, cleaning their room, and folding their laundry.  

    Character-Building Activities: Integrity can be built as a foundational character trait through team activities, class projects, hobbies, and mission statements. You can set goals for your kids to accomplish each week, such as learning a new word, improving their math scores, etc

    Related Reading: How to Help Kids with Math: 6 Innovating Approaches

    13. Self-reliance – being independent in thought and action

    Empowering kids to be independent can help them become more confident of their abilities and allow them to pursue new interests, hobbies, and activities. They can also perform better at school knowing that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to.

    How To Teach: By keeping your kids involved in daily activities and teaching them basic to advanced tasks, you can help them become more self-reliant.   

    Character-Building Activities: Involving kids in chores that include cooking, pet care, laundry, and home organization can teach them self-reliance.

    14. Adaptability – understanding the nature of evolving things

    Being adaptable is one of the more important character traits for kids as it enables them to remain content in dynamic situations. This can help them better manage their emotions when they experience conflict at school.  

    How To Teach: Adaptability can be taught through role playing, activities, and games that need them to imagine new characteristics, use new skills, and gain perception.  

    Character-Building Activities: You can ask your kids to write down three challenges they face at school or at home, and how they can become more adaptable to manage the issue better. You can also encourage them to share toys, books, and activities with others at an early age.

    Related Reading: Signs That Your Child is Struggling in School
    Two young girls playing with stuffed toys

    15. Supportiveness – helping someone else without expectation

    Supportiveness is a valuable skill that kids can instinctively pick up as it is a simple concept to explore. When kids become supportive of other kids, they can grow together as a collective rather than resolve conflict through aggression.

    How To Teach: Supportiveness can be taught as a standard practice at home, as well as through exercises in role playing via puppets and toys.

    Character-Building Activities: You can have your kids spot the need of the hour for a character in a story, or an animal in distress, or even their favorite toy when they’re feeling alone. You can ask them to identify what that object or person might need, through empathy, and what actions they can take to support them.

    Negative Character Traits That Kids Should Keep in Mind

    Young boy playing with a brown rabbit

    It is also important to explain the impact of negative characteristics, and how they can diminish our experiences over time. By shifting the discussion of negative traits from a punishment-oriented one to a discussion-based one, kids will be more receptive to eliminating negative traits from their mindset. By knowing what negative traits to avoid, you can be in a better position to remove them from your child’s persona.

    Let’s explore the list of character traits examples that can be negative:

    • Bullying should be a primary negative trait that should be eliminated.
    • Lying is a common negative trait among younger children who don’t understand honesty fully.
    • Cheating is a critical negative character trait that should be curtailed.
    • Cursing and using foul language is another vital negative character trait in kids.
    • Disrespectfulness should also be a negative trait that is addressed early and curbed.

    In conclusion, it is important to follow the strategies of identifying the correct positive traits, knowing how to teach them, and opting for exercises to strengthen them. You can also identify negative character traits that kids should avoid and address them in a discussion-oriented way to help kids reflect on their actions. 

    For younger children, focusing on the more basic character traits, such as honesty and self-confidence, is essential for cognitive and emotional development.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    What stories are best for teaching positive traits?

    Stories that are rich in narrative and are from a person’s point of view can help build positive traits.

    How can I use technology to teach helpful character traits?

    Online learning games, character-building activities, and watching shows that build self-worth can help your child learn positive traits more effectively.

    How can I make my child let go of negative character traits?

    Helping children reflect on their actions, role playing certain situations that help them reach their own realizations, and other confidence-building activities can help them let go of negative traits.

    What are some character traits to build a positive attitude in kids?

    Here is a list of positive character traits for kids:

    • Kindness
    • Generosity
    • Enthusiasm
    • Courage
    • Honesty

    Can my child’s friends influence their character traits?

    Yes. To a certain extent, your kid’s friends can influence their traits, especially if they’re spending a significant amount of time with them.

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